Restaurant sales trends in the age of Covid: Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day (or Mothering Sunday) has always been a big weekend in the restaurant industry. It’s almost traditional at this point to treat the mums in our lives to a meal to celebrate the special day. But as we all know, nowadays a simple meal at a restaurant is not the easiest adventure. Considering this, we wondered what Mother’s Day may look like this year. In this article, we take a deep dive into restaurant sales trends over the past year including Valentine’s Day to make some predictions as to how the holiday will affect current restaurant sales.

What will Mother’s Day 2021 restaurant sales look like?

In the UK, restaurants are currently closed for all dine-in activity due to the third national lockdown. This means that the traditional Mother’s Day meal is off the cards. Thankfully, restaurants and diners are better prepared than we were this time last year, where Mother’s Day fell the day before the first national lockdown was announced and 6 days after the government recommended that people no longer patronise hospitality venues. That was a true nightmare.

In fact, in the week running up to and including Mother’s Day 2020, sales across the industry were -64% of what they were for the same week in 2019. This was especially bad as Mother’s Day fell a week later in 2019, so the year-on-year sales figures are just compared to an average week in March.

However, we’ve all got a little more used to lockdown now and many businesses have pivoted their strategies to allow for more streams of revenue, whether that’s from increased delivery and takeout presence or from DIY kits. That leaves us wondering what sales numbers for Mother’s Day 2021 might look like.

Thankfully, we’ve already celebrated a day that is traditionally a boom for restaurants: Valentine’s Day. If we look at sales trends from the lovers’ holiday and see what trends were like both year-over-year and week-over-week, we might get a better idea of what sales might look like when we celebrate all things maternal.

Valentine’s Day

When we look at week-on-week numbers for Valentine’s Day 2020, they vary vastly per restaurant type. QSRs actually show a negative average week-over-week at -3%, unsurprising considering the tradition of going to ‘fancier’ establishments to celebrate. Table service restaurants were up 3% on average week-on-week, but fine dining was only up 1%, showing that the holiday does not affect higher-end establishments as much. Pubs won the most with week-on-week sales up a whole 10% on average.  

Chart showing Valentine’s Day 2020 week-on-week sales

Chart showing Valentine’s Day 2020 week-on-week restaurant Sales

On the other hand, when we look at Valentine’s Day 2021, we see that diners’ attitudes have shifted. Now sales week-over-week are up for all restaurant types. This may show that when it comes to delivery, diners are less likely to care whether the restaurant is ‘fancy’ for appearances and instead just choose their favourite food. Sales week-over-week are up significantly across all restaurant types but it’s important to remember that this is sales data for restaurants that are open (currently only 69% of locations currently have sales coming in).

Chart showing Valentine’s Day 2021 week-on-week sales

Chart showing Valentine’s Day 2021 week-on-week Sales

While the week-on-week numbers are positive, year-on-year we’re seeing sales numbers at -43%. Nevertheless, this is the highest sales have been since the beginning of the year with average sales since the beginning of January being -49% of what they were last year.

Mother’s Day

What can we therefore expect for Mother’s Day week?

If we look at Mother’s Day 2019 (the last ‘normal’ Mother’s Day), we saw sales rise 7% over the previous week across the industry as a whole. Breaking down by restaurant type, we can once again see that pubs are where sales are affected the most, followed by fine dining institutions and table service restaurants.

Chat showing Mother’s Day 2019 week-on-week sales

Chat showing Mother’s Day 2019 week-on-week restaurant sales

This shows that week-over-week, Mother’s Day is actually more of a sales injection than Valentine’s Day (likely because Mother’s Day calls for bigger groups than Valentine’s Day). If the trend holds true this year, open locations should expect the highest demand this year over the next week. Those establishments offering meal kits will likely have already seen sales increase as people get prepared for the big day, but delivery and takeaway won’t see rises until the day itself, hopefully assuring for a more prolonged increased sales period.

We’ll report back on what the data shows in the coming weeks, so sign up to our newsletter to be sure not to miss these findings!

What's next 

The next big event we'll be looking at will be the Easter holiday, made all the more exciting by the slight loosening of restrictions in the UK when outdoor gatherings may be allowed for up to 6 people or 2 households. We might see the resurgence of the takeaway cocktail and meal in a park if the weather permits, creating more demand for restaurants. 

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Cover photo by Kate Hliznitsova on Unsplash

Posted in Analytics, Industry buzz

Elizabeth Norton

Written by Elizabeth Norton